Too Much Evil and Suffering in the World?
God & Neighbor
The reality of sin (Genesis 3, Romans 5) brings misery to the common human experience. The presence of evil and suffering in the world makes sense to most Christians, but many wonder why there is SO MUCH evil and suffering. Couldn’t a loving God just spare us from the high degree of heartbreak, disease, death, and natural calamity that we see on the news and in our own lives? Personally, I’d be okay with a lot less. But how much less would do it for me?
A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
Hypothetically, let’s say the amount of evil and suffering in the world was HALF of what it is now. Either the trials we endure are cut by 50%, or the number of people who endure trials is cut by 50%. What would our perception be? The news would still be filled with stories of crime and tragedy, and instead of everyone we know hurting, every other person we know would hurt. I think we would still ask God why there is so much evil and suffering in the world. The reality is, half of what we see now would not make much of a difference at all.
Suppose the degree of evil and suffering in the world were just TEN PERCENT of its current level. Instead of trouble striking me and most of the people in my life, only one in ten people met with trouble. Or instead of daily trials, we experienced trials only one day in ten. Would we still look to the sky and ask God why we must see so much pain and suffering? We all know hundreds of other people and are connected to many media sources, so even if we were fortunate enough to escape tragedy, I believe the suffering of those around us would still cause many to question God’s compassion.
So let’s go further. Imagine that we never personally experienced the amount of evil and suffering we currently see, but that only ONE PERCENT of the world did. Ninety-nine percent of our current trouble never touched us, or only one in a hundred people ever lost a house, a job, a loved one, or fell into addiction, illness, or died. Even in the middle of a good world, where the vast majority of us only knew joy, goodness, love, and perfect health, the 1% of the world that was decayed and corrupt would not go unnoticed. Its rarity might even highlight it more, and I’m sure the question would still be there.
That news story about the child who died from the rare disease. Why him, God? Things like that just don’t happen!
A small village buried in a landslide while the entire surrounding communities were untouched. Why them, Lord? How could you allow that?
God, You brought me so much good in my life for 80 years, and today I find out I have cancer. Why?!
I CAN’T GET NO…
What ratio of evil to good would truly satisfy us? The thing is, no matter how scarce evil, death and suffering were in the world, I don’t think many would express the sentiment: Yes, God, this is a good balance. Very few people suffer. This seems fair. The fundamental truth is that even ONE sin—one lie, one act of rebellion, one bite from the fruit, and one effect of the Fall—is too much for us to be content…
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